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FC United

Arsene Wenger, Guy Roux and football's longest-serving managers

Arsene Wenger celebrated his 811th Premier League game in charge of Arsenal on New Year's Eve as the Gunners drew 1-1 at West Brom.

He surpassed another of the game's greats as Sir Alex Ferguson managed 810 games in the Premier League at Manchester United -- though the Scot also took charge of 225 games in the old First Division. So Arsene's got some way to go to match that.

Here are 10 other managers who have also made a habit of sticking around.

Eddie Howe - Bournemouth, five years

Eddie Howe almost certainly wishes he never left Bournemouth. He first joined the club as a player way back in 1994, made over 200 appearances for them and returned after short spells at Portsmouth and Swindon, fans having raised money to buy him back. He took over as manager in 2008, and kept Bournemouth in the Football League despite a 17-point penalty after failing to exit administration. That would be enough to make him a hero, but he then took them up to League One before leaving for an 18-month spell at Burnley. After returning in 2012, he achieved miracles by taking them to the Championship, then the Premier League, then comfortable safety there. If there was ever one man bigger than a club, it's Howe.

Neal Ardley - Wimbledon, five years

A link to the past will always mean something a little extra to Wimbledon fans. That this link has turned out to be an extremely good manager for them is a delightful bonus. Neal Ardley made over 250 appearance for Wimbledon as a player, joining in 1991 when they were in the old First Division. He returned to the "phoenix" club in 2012, after they had clambered their way throughout the lower reaches of English football to reach League Two. He was the man who then guided them to League One, beating Plymouth in the playoff final: the next task is to finish above MK Dons, who they trailed by four points last season.

Gareth Ainsworth during Wycombe Wanderers FA Cup tie against Tottenham.
Gareth Ainsworth took over Wycombe Wanderers in 2012.

Gareth Ainsworth - Wycombe Wanderers, five years

Gareth Ainsworth is 44 years of age, and retired as a player in 2013. But it perhaps speaks to his commitment as Wycombe manager that, after an injury crisis last year, he re-registered himself and made a substitute appearance in the EFL Trophy, and has occasionally popped up on the bench, when required, since. The club were in dire danger of relegation when he arrived in 2012, but he guided them to League Two safety and in 2014-15 they finished fourth, losing the playoff final to Southend on penalties.

Jim Bentley - Morecambe, six years

Jim Bentley means plenty to the Morecambe fans. He joined the club as a player, a big, hulking centre-back in his day, back in 2002, and after Sammy McIlroy left in 2011, Bentley was appointed as player-manager. He hung up his boots a year later, and since then has guided the Shrimps to safety in League Two, the highest level they've ever played at, every season, despite a degree of turmoil in their ownership situation. Last season, Bentley was sent to the stands during a game against Cheltenham, and was subsequently fined £1,000 by the FA, but in recognition of the job Bentley was doing (Morecambe were under a transfer embargo after the PFA helped pay players' wages), fans had a whip-round and paid his penalty. He was, understandably, pretty moved by the gesture

Current longest-serving in England, behind Arsene Wenger
Paul Tisdale - Exeter, 11 years

Occasionally, and rather unfairly, more known for his natty dress sense than his achievements as a manager, Paul Tisdale is part of the furniture at the other St James Park. He arrived at the club in 2006, after the Bath University team under his control became the first collegiate outfit to reach the first round of the FA Cup. He took them into the Football League in his second full season then achieved a double promotion after finishing second in League Two. However they were relegated in 2012, and despite reaching the playoff final last season, they remain in the fourth tier. Still, despite a number of chances to leave, Tisdale has stayed. "It's not so much how long either myself or Arsene has been employed, it's more how little time others have," he told Sky Sports earlier this year.

Paul Tisdale is one of the longest-serving managers in English football.
Paul Tisdale has been in charge of Exeter for over a decade.

Ignacio Querada - Spain women, 27 years

A winger in the Real Madrid system as a youngster, Ignacio Querada was appointed as the Spanish women's team manager in 1988 and stayed until his resignation in 2015. But unlike most of the names on this list, his was not a story of uncomplicated, outstanding success: indeed, you could argue his longevity was down to complacency and neglect at the top, rather than anything else. While they won his first competitive game in charge 17-0, Spain didn't qualify for a World Cup under Querada until 2015, and their performance there was so bad that all 23 players in the squad called for him to be sacked after they were knocked out, in the first round, having gained only a point. "We believe an era has come to an end and we need a change," they said in a statement, also criticising their "inadequate" preparation for the tournament. "This generation has the talent and commitment to have gone a great deal further."

Ronnie McFall - Portadown, 30 years

Portadown had never won the league before Ronnie McFall was appointed manager in 1986, six weeks after Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at Manchester United. But in 1990 they finished top of the table for the first of four times under McFall, also winning the Northern Irish double in 1995-96. A hometown boy, he had two spells there as a player, as well as representing the town's cricket and rugby teams as a youngster. McFall had planned to step down at the end of the 2015-16 season, but resigned halfway through the campaign after a shock cup defeat, quoting the Shawshank Redemption when asked about his future plans. "You get busy living or you get busy dying and I'm going to get busy living," he said.

Bill Struth - Rangers, 34 years

For a good portion of the time Willie Maley led Celtic, across Glasgow Bill Struth was his rival as Rangers manager. Despite taking charge of his team for almost a decade less, Struth won 18 titles to Maley's 16, claiming 73 trophies in all at an impressive lick of around two per season. He won 14 of those titles in 19 years before the Second World War, so if the league hadn't been suspended when the conflict began, his tally would have been even more impressive. In 1952 he had part of his leg amputated after contracting gangrene, but still won the league that season and continued for another two years. He was vice-chairman for two years after he finally retired in 1954.

Willie Maley - Celtic, 43 years

While Jock Stein is regarded as Celtic's greatest manager, quite rightly, another man took charge of them for over twice as many games, won more league titles and more trophies in general. Appointed in 1897, Willie Maley was Celtic's first manager (before this the team had been selected by a committee), and stayed there until 1940, winning over 1,000 games, collecting 16 league titles and in 1917 set the club record 62 games unbeaten that Brendan Rodgers's side has only just beaten. A stubborn autocrat, Maley wouldn't take training sessions and watched games from the stands, but his methods clearly worked: Maley, as much as Stein, built Celtic into the giant they became.

Guy Roux - Auxerre, 44 years

This is cheating very slightly, because Roux had short breaks from being Auxerre manager in 1962 (when he had to do national service, alongside former French prime minister Lionel Jospin) and 2000 (an ill-advised spell as general manager), but he spent 44 years building a club from a tiny footballing hamlet in the amateur regional leagues, to league champions and home to some of France's greatest players. Roux essentially got the job because he asked for the lowest salary of all the applicants, but over the years he built Auxerre in his own image, taking them to the top flight, won the title in 1996 and threw in four Coupes de France too.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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